News Briefs 2-9-2023

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

February 9, 2023

Redistricting Law Suit Could Reach Settlement

A lawsuit opposing the redistricting map adopted by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors in December 2022 could reach a conclusion. 

The League of Women Voters and SLO County Citizens for Good Government say that the “Patten map was adopted in an illegal manner and should be replaced with a fair and representative map.”

At a closed session of the Board on Tuesday, January 24, 3 of the 5 supervisors voted to direct county counsel to enter into settlement talks on the redistricting case. 

The next Case Management Conference is scheduled for February 9 (post press time) at 1:30 p.m. If the case does not result in a settlement, then the trial of SLOCCGG’s claim under the Public Records Act is scheduled for March 30 at 1:30 p.m. The trial of the claims by SLOCCGG and the League that the current map violates the Fair Maps Act will be held on June 20 at 8:30 a.m. 

All hearings take place Dept. 5 of SLO Superior Court and will be available for viewing on Zoom at http://bit.ly/3jpMc4z. Changes to these scheduled events may occur, and if the case results in a settlement, these hearings will not take place.

SLO Broadband Survey 

Do you own or work at a business in SLO or even hang out in one that uses the internet? The City of San Luis Obispo is conducting a study of internet availability as part of a citywide Broadband Strategic Plan to ensure every household and business has access to high-speed and affordable internet service.

As part of this project, the City is gathering first-hand information from community members through an online survey running through February 15, 2023. Take the survey at www.slocity.org/broadband.

The City is working with a national consulting and engineering firm, Magellan, to explore improvements to fiber broadband coverage for people who live in, work in, and regularly visit the City of San Luis Obispo. Magellan is designing an expanded broadband network to meet the City’s growing needs and support broadband service to business and residential communities. The strategic plan is focused on expansion of broadband access and adoption within the community to bridge the digital divide.

The online survey is only the first step in the process of building the strategic plan; there are community workshops and focus groups planned in the coming weeks, in which Magellan will be meeting with local residents, businesses, stakeholders, and community groups to understand the how to chart a path forward that achieves high-speed, affordable broadband service across the City.

Information from the survey will only be used for broadband planning purposes and will not be shared with any other entity. 

This project is funded through a $100,300 grant from the California Public Utilities Commission.

Cal Poly Tax Help 

With tax season underway, trained and certified Cal Poly accounting students will once again offer free tax help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Three CPAs have also volunteered their services. 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers VITA to provide free basic tax return preparation for low- and moderate-income taxpayers; there are VITA clinics nationwide. Cal Poly students are volunteering at clinics at Cal Poly and two off-campus sites: Oceano and Santa Maria. Another non-student VITA clinic is in Atascadero.

While the tax filing deadline for most is April 18, the IRS extended the deadline to May 15 to California counties impacted by the storms. That includes San Luis Obispo County.

VITA appointments can be made at MyFreeTaxes.org.

Lopez Drive Bridge Work

Planning a trip out to Lopez Lake to check out the increased water the storms left us? Plan ahead for roadwork. 

The County of San Luis Obispo Public Works Department began work preparing for seismically retrofitting the Lopez Drive Bridge in Arroyo Grande over Lopez Lake. This first phase of work consists of installing environmental equipment to allow for retrofitting work to start later this spring.

Work is expected to run from Monday, Jan. 30 through Wednesday, March 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday, weather permitting. 

Construction signs and lane closures with flagging will be placed in advance of the work to notify the traveling public. Motorists may experience intermittent delays. 

“The retrofit is a public-safety project expected to begin later this year,” County officials said in a news release.  “Strengthening the seismically vulnerable bridge now will prevent a sudden bridge collapse during an earthquake event. Retrofitting will consist of constructing new support columns and seismic cable restraints beneath the bridge.”

Shimmick Construction Company, Inc. was awarded the contract for $9,268,771 to perform the work. The project is funded by the Federal Highway Administration via grant funding administered by the Caltrans Highway Bridge Program.  

Boys and Girls Club Lands Big Grant

The San Luis Obispo County’s Department of Public Health awarded the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mid Central Coast $300,000 from funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

Funds will enable the BGCMCC to decrease the number of youth in the county on waiting lists who need out of school childcare at County club sites. This will also help to ensure that all enrolled members are provided the evidence-based programming they desire in order to confirm that out- of- school attendance is worthwhile for them.

Send your news, community and business briefs to Editor@EsteroBayNews.com. Be sure to include the who, what, why, where and when information along with a contact person.

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